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15 Interesting Mont Blanc Facts
3 Min Read
27 June 2024
15 Interesting Mont Blanc Facts

Europe’s most beloved mountain is a dreamy hiking destination. Here’s what you might not already know about Mont Blanc.

In many ways, Mont Blanc is considered to be the birthplace of mountaineering as we know it today. For hundreds of years, this French, Swiss, and Italian massif has beckoned adventurers from all over the world. Ever since the first ascent, by Dr. Michel-Gabriel Paccard and Jacques Balmat in 1786, the mountain’s prominence has grown. 

Today, many mountain huts and hotels are built right alongside trails that ring the landscape. The most famous of these trails is the Tour du Mont Blanc, or TMB, a roughly 105-mile trail that wraps around the mountain. It’s one of Europe’s most famous, popular, and beloved hiking destinations.

Curious about hiking around Mont Blanc? Here’s a bit more history about one of Europe’s favorite mountains.

Three people hike the TMB trail with Mont Blanc in the background

Where is Mont Blanc?

The summit of Mont Blanc is on French territory, and is the highest point in western Europe. But the mountain itself is on international ground—the Mont Blanc massif also stretches into Italy and Switzerland. The Tour du Mont Blanc trail passes through all three countries.

What does Mont Blanc mean?

Mont Blanc is French for “White Mountain.” It got its name from its perennial snow-covered peak. In Italy, it’s called Monte Bianco—Italian for “white mountain.”

How tall is Mont Blanc?

With a summit of 15,777ft (4,809m), Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and in western Europe. (The tallest mountain in Europe is Mt. Elbrus, in Russia, at 18,510 feet.)

Mount Blanc with person in the foreground displaying scale

Does the height of Mont Blanc change?

The summit elevation can change by a few feet depending on the snowpack at the top. While the official elevation was once 15,770ft, in 2002 it was measured to be 15,777ft.

How long does it take to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The short answer: it’s entirely up to you! On a Macs trip, you can hike as much or as little of the mountain as you’d like, over 5 to 14 days. Macs Adventure has been sending long distance hikers to Mont Blanc since 2012, and we were one of the first companies to offer self-guided treks around the mountain. 

Older man using hiking poles on TMB followed by two females

More Interesting Facts About Mont Blanc

  1. The mountain is ranked 11th in the world in topographic prominence, which essentially means it’s one of the biggest elevation changes you can actually see. Topographic prominence measures the relative height of a mountain from its summit to the lowest uninterrupted contour line.

  2. The seven-mile-long Mont Blanc tunnel links France with Italy and travels directly underneath the mountain—making road trips (and, perhaps, luggage transfers) much faster.

  3. The lowest recorded temperature on Mont Blanc was -45.4°F, set in January 1893.

  4. In 1808, Marie Paradis, a maidservant in Chamonix, climbed her way out of poverty by becoming the first woman to reach the summit of Mont Blanc. She wore a skirt, required help from her hiking companions to make it to the top, and climbed alongside Balmat, the mountain guide who achieved the first ascent.

  5. It took 30 years before another woman summited Mont Blanc. Henriette d’Angeville, a French aristocrat, later became known as one of the first female mountaineers.

  6. There have been two notable speed ascents: Swiss climber Pierre-André Gobet climbed Mont Blanc in a round trip from Chamonix in 5 hours, 10 minutes, and 14 seconds in 1990. On July 11, 2013, Basque speed climber and runner Kilian Jornet completed the ascent and descent in just 4 hours 57 minutes 40 seconds.

  7. The Mer de Glace, which translates to “sea of ice,” is the largest glacier in France. It stretches through the Chamonix Valley for over 4 miles, and is 650 feet deep. It’s a must-see on your trip with Macs.
    Older man and woman sitting on rock in front of a lake

  8. The Aiguelle du Midi is the highest cable car in France, bringing passengers to stunning viewpoints of the massif from 12,600 feet. It’s a great experience to tack onto your trip, just make sure you book in advance, as reservations are essential.

  9. Our Walker’s Haute Route links Mont Blanc with another mighty European summit, the Matterhorn, and offers a thrilling and picturesque hike.

  10. The first Winter Olympic Games were held in the town of Chamonix, at the base of the mountain, in 1924.

  11. The Tour du Mont Blanc is iconic for its mountain huts and dorm-style accommodations, which make for an elevated—though affordable—hiking experience. Huts typically offer hot, freshly-cooked meals, and their restaurants are great rest stops for long distance hikers and day trippers alike.
    Traditional mountain hut on the TMB with 5 people outside

  12. In 2023, Macs sent 1,095 adventurers on the Tour du Mont Blanc


  1. In 2016, Google Maps collaborated with climbers, skiers, and trail runners—including Jornet—to capture 360-degree imagery of the mountain. That’s right: There’s Google Street View even on the top of Mont Blanc.

  2. The Tour du Mont Blanc started out as a trade route, as did many other popular hikes around Europe. (See, for example, the Via Francigena, which traverses France, Switzerland, and Italy, and the Cotswold Way, which winds through charming English villages.)

  3. Mont Blanc receives an average of about 11.5 feet of snow every year. Needless to say, the best time to hike the TMB is summer. Always make sure to book well in advance, as hut space is limited and the TMB is one of the most popular hiking routes in the world.

Three people enjoy ice cream with Mont Blanc in background

What is a Macs self-guided Mont Blanc adventure like?

If you hike the Tour du Mont Blanc with us, your luggage will be transferred between your accommodations so that you can hike with only a day pack. Macs will book huts and hotels for you so you don’t have to do any planning, and accommodations can usually prepare a packed lunch for you to take on the trail so that you can eat wherever the scenery is best. Just make sure to ask in advance

All you have to do is decide which Mont Blanc trip is best for you. (And start training, of course.)

Erik Lambert

Written by

Erik Lambert
Guest Writer
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